A United Nations human rights expert has expressed his “horror” at the ongoing Israeli military action in Gaza, where some 30 Palestinian have been killed, nearly 200 homes have been destroyed and 2,200 people left without shelter since the beginning of May.
John Dugard, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967, issued a statement yesterday calling the Israeli actions “a violation of international humanitarian law” and constituted war crimes under the Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians in times of war.
“They also amount to collective punishment, which violates both humanitarian law and international human rights law,” the statement added. “It is impossible to accept the Israeli argument that these actions are justified by military necessity. On the contrary…they are ‘carried out unlawfully and wantonly,’”
The Special Rapporteur called on the Government of Israel to desist from such activity and to observe its international obligations. He also called on the UN Security Council to take appropriate action to stop the violence, if necessary by the imposition of mandatory arms embargo on Israel of the kind that was imposed on South Africa in 1977.
Mr. Dugard reminded Council members, especially its permanent members, of their obligations to take action to restore international peace and security in the region. “The Special Rapporteur sees no reason why an arms embargo should not be an appropriate measure,” the statement said, urgently calling on all Council members “to behave responsibly, in accordance with their international obligations, and not to allow domestic political considerations to undermine their international obligations.”